Archived: Walgreens to Replace Long-time Boyle Heights Grocery Store

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A retail pharmacy will soon open in Boyle Heights in a building occupied until last week by a grocery store.

Big Buy Foods Inc., located on East Cesar Chavez Avenue and Breed Street, closed last week after 46 years in the neighborhood.

According to Rick Coca, spokesperson for Councilmember Jose Huizar, Walgreens has owned the property for a few years, but allowed Big Buy to continue to lease the location while the company developed plans for the location and completed the permitting process.

“Walgreens is doing a significant amount of renovation to the building and then moving in,” Coca told EGP in an email. “They have agreed to several concessions to make sure the building fits into the neighborhood and is compatible with Cesar Chavez Avenue—this will include eliminating the setback on Chavez (other buildings are built to the street) and getting some of the windows to be transparent, which a lot of stores resist since it eliminates shelf space.”

Robert Linger, press information officer for Walgreen Company Corporate Office, confirmed that the drug store is slated to open in fall 2011.

Other grocery stores within a one-mile of the soon-to-be drug store site include El Super (3405 East Cesar Chavez Ave), Food4Less (2750 East 1st Street), Super-A-Foods Inc (425 South Soto Street), and Smart & Final (2308 East 4th Street).

Boyle Heights resident Joaquin Castellanos told EGP he will miss Big Buy, noting that its location was conveniently located within walking distance for the many residents in the area who do not own cars.

The store was also the first market some immigrants visited in the U.S., according to Castellanos.

“Some times the cashiers will help a person who was not familiar with the dollars bills,” he said, adding that store’s staff was fluent in Spanish.

Castellanos expressed concern that Boyle Heights has already lost three markets and that there is no longer a grocery store east of Soto to downtown.

“The Big Buy was not the best [compared to many of]today’s supermarkets, but it was filling a service in the Community,” he told EGP on Tuesday. “I believe the CRA needs to pay more attention because we are losing markets…”

Nonetheless, Castellanos says he hopes Walgreens will build a positive relationship with consumers and be a positive addition to the Brooklyn Corridor.

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7 Comments


  1. I was a resident of Boyle Heights and seldomly visited Big Buy. The fact that it was closer than the bigger Supermarkets is what attacted my business. Although, it would be ideal to have other type chains such as Trader Joes or Whole Foods they are not going to gamble by going into such a tight niche community that is loyal to the mom and pops mini-marts. Afterall, convenience is the name of the game. The Boyle Heights community needs to embrace change and welcome businesses that are willing to open their doors in that comminity and that are brining in new opportunity for those who will shop there as well as those that will be employed there.


  2. I wish it would have been a Trader Joe’s or another smaller market. One that doesn’t charge as much as Super A’s. Food-4-Less is always packed and hard to get in and out of because of the parking situation. I don’t understand why we can’t have more amenities in Boyle Heights.


  3. I read the article and the comments. There was a pretty good idea that I read of building a Trader Joe. Since this demographic area inhabited by Latin/Hispanic/Spanish culture. It be fun to see how that type market influence the community and how it plays off. I know the Walgreen might take some local pharmacies business away and create a very competitive situation. I find that here in Boyle Height community the pharmacies cost for products are kind more expensive than in Kaiser. I prefer to purchase my meds in Kaiser unless i find more affordable prices elsewhere. I’d like to see how this pharmacy


  4. I was hoping for another market too. We buy a lot of our “dailies”- queso fresco, meat, bread, etc. at Carnitas Uruapan, but a national chain grocery in walking distance would have been nice. Food 4 Less and Smart and Final suck. I’m not surprised about the Walgreens; there’s no sales tax on groceries, and almost everything at Walgreens is taxable- especially the liquor. Besides, Walgreens has been really aggressive at expanding in communities like Echo Park and El Monte.

    Frankly, what I would have like to have seen is a Trader Joe’s. The selection is really different from the existing stores and wouldn’t have competed with Carnitas Uruapan. It would have brought in a ton of business from the downtown loft districts that is currently going to South Pasadena- and maybe even drummed up some more clientele for Guisados and La Parilla. Plus, TJ’s has a really good track record of hiring local and giving money to local schools.

    No one cares about our potholes. Remember when Michigan had that giant hole in the middle of the street for like 2 years? Villaraigosa thinks that as long as he flashes that greasy smile people will forget about that telemundo reporter and the years of unkept promises and vote him to Sacramento when he gets termed out of the mayor’s office.


  5. This is great for people here ..may’be now we can see the big picture Ceasar Chavez can be an out door mall lets see what else we can get rid of on the strip and bring in a star bucks may’be? how about we start having these stores put up real signs and may’be we can start to look like we know how to do business.

  6. maria martinez on

    This Walgreesn project is whole disaster for many of the businesses in the community,,, inneceasry to say that it is not needed,,, we have Ramirez,,, and Del Sol. What we need is Market. But of course like always,,, Politicians (Jose Huizar) only work for what works to there best interes. I was informed that there was a survey sent to the residents in the community,,, and that the vast majority asked for a Walgreens. I am a resident of Boyle Heights,,, I never got one. So our councilman says to look at the big picture,,,, for me the big picture is BOYLE HEIGHTS as is,,, yes maybe fix some streets,,, pot holes,,, etc etc. I so hope that our leaders realize that this project is not for the best interest of our community. Many people in the area dont have transportation,,, getting to the market is a real mission.

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